Food Concession Menus – Know Your Market

fair food

fair food

In the food concession business, when it comes to menus, it can be a challenge to identify and pin down your market. Because your market is, literally, a moving target.

In one day your customers might be attendees of a farmers market in the morning, and Harley Davidson riders, enjoying a swap meet, in the afternoon. The following weekend you might have your concession at an art and wine show. Then, two days later, you find yourself setting up at a five day county fair.

I don’t know any menu that can maximize sales at every event. Cotton candy is for kids, and fajitas are preferred by adults. Event goers admiring art while tasting wine are not likely to buy a corn dog. But, they might buy chocolate dipped strawberries or oysters. The reverse is true for people attending a motocross race.

Most concessionaires serve a menu based on their ambition. Generally, concessionaires who earn well over fifty thousand dollars a season operate highly productive concession booths and serve a menu that has broad appeal. The food they serve can be prepared and served to hundreds or thousands of people within a short window of time. They dominate large events, such as state fairs and large sporting events. These high attendance mega events attract a wide demographic of attendees and the earning potential is huge. There, too, booth space and other operating costs are equally huge. For these food concessionaires the critical mass bar is high, but, when reached, so is the pay-off.

However, large events are not for everyone. In my world most concessionaires prefer to work smaller special interest events and festivals, such as horse shows, farmers markets, car shows and small fairs. They cost less to participate, and the attendees are usually more receptive to a variety of menus.

In either case, no matter what your business model, menu, and type of events you work, achieving critical mass is key. The bar is high for concessionaires who operate high production booths, selling food at mega events. The bar is much lower for others who sell economically at moderate events. There, a less productive menu that appeals to fewer people might work just right.

There is more to reaching critical mass in sales than the popularity of your menu. More on that in a future post. Your comments are encouraged. Maybe you have a different perspective.

About admin

With nearly three decades of experience in the food concession business, a position on the Oregon Food Services Advisory Board and as founder of Northwest Vendor’s Network Association, Barb Fitzgerald is a leading authority on this unique mode of self-employment. Her own experience and dedicated passion for the concession business drives her belief in the food concession business as a path to self-employment for nearly anyone with the desire to become responsible for their own income. She is a concession start-up consultant, and the best-selling author of, Food Booth, The Entrepreneur’s Complete Guide to the Food Concession Business. Go to:
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